Back pain is never pleasant. However, when you know the root of the problem (such as hunching over your desk at work, poor posture, or inadequate form while working out), you can look for ways to be mindful in attempts to reduce it.
On the other hand, sometimes you can feel pain from simply walking or standing for long periods of time. You may think you’re doing everything right, yet the discomfort is still there, as a daily reminder that something is not right.
If your work duties or other responsibilities require you to walk or stand for extended time frames, what can you do to keep the pain at bay?
Lower back hurts when walking or standing
Your lower back provides support and stability to your body when you’re in an upright position. Each vertebra is separated by a jelly-filled disc that serves as a cushion. These discs can become inflamed when standing for long periods of time. They can also experience wear and tear with age. Standing or walking for extended periods of time may aggravate this inflammation, resulting in pain.
Stress. Standing or walking for long periods of time places stress on your lower back. In addition to the actual pressure on lumbar vertebrae, if you’re standing at a high-demand job, your back muscles may tense as well, increasing the pain.
Being overweight. Every pound of excess weight places an additional four pounds of stress on your joints. This includes what’s called the facet joints, which are located between vertebrae. These are the joints that allow your back to be flexible when you have to bend down or twist around.
Poor posture. Having poor posture for a day or two won’t really cause damage to your back. But do it over the span of several years, and it will affect the anatomy of your spine: Discs, joints, muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves on your back will all experience additional stress.
Sedentary lifestyle. Inactivity leads to what’s called Disuse Syndrome. If you are used to having a sedentary lifestyle, you could inadvertently be causing the deterioration of your musculoskeletal system. As a result, you’ll experience a long list of health ailments, including chronic lower back pain.
You need to replace your mattress. Not all mattresses are created equal. If you bought yours because it was on sale on Memorial Day, without regard for what your body actually needs, or if you purchased it over ten years ago, it may be time to revisit that decision and look for one that takes into account your body type, weight, preferred sleeping position, or any back condition that may require additional spinal support.
Treatment may vary depending on the cause of the pain. Your medical provider may suggest specific physical therapy exercises. He or she can teach you how to do each movement as well as provide you with a printout with instructions that you can do at home. Less conservative treatment options include muscle relaxants, topical creams, or cortisone injections.
Your doctor may also analyze your gait (your form when you walk), to determine whether you have any posture issues that need to be corrected, or whether wearing shoes with additional support may help reduce stress on your spine.
In addition to the physical therapy exercises recommended by your doctor, apply heat therapy, 15 minutes at a time. This will stimulate muscle relaxation and blood flow.
There are several things you can do to prevent (or at least lower the likelihood of experiencing) lower back pain.
Adjust your workstation. Ergonomics are crucial in every single work industry. If your job requires you to stand at your workstation, request a height-adjustable workstation, along with a rubber mat to stand on. Do your part as well by opting to wear well-cushioned shoes.
Avoid wearing high heels. They may look nice; however, high heels cause your feet (and thus, the rest of your body) to stand in an unnatural position. In fact, these type of shoes alter the curves of your spine, causing uneven wear and tear on the discs between the vertebrae, as well as the ligaments that attach muscles to your spine.
Wear orthotics. Orthotics are shoe inserts designed to provide support, proper alignment, and stability to your feet. They are particularly helpful if you suffer from overpronation, plantar fasciitis, or bunions.
Exercise and stretch. Always ask your doctor for specific exercise and stretch recommendations, since problems with your back may prevent you from doing certain types of exercises. For general guidelines of where to start, click here.
Mind your posture. While it’s easy to become distracted with daily responsibilities, take some time to determine whether you’re standing up straight. Avoid drooping your shoulders while either standing or walking. Stand as tall as you can with your chest forward and your shoulders back, and land your body weight on your heels when walking.
Lose weight. As previously mentioned, excess weight is felt four-fold by the joints in your body. In addition, your lower back muscles need to work harder to do simple tasks, such as turning around. This not only leads to lower back pain, but to knee and ankle pain as well, greatly affecting your quality of life and ability to keep up with friends and family.
If You’re Experiencing Back Pain, Let Us Help You.
At Spine Works Institute, we take pride in helping patients through safe and natural therapies. We have an entire team of physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other healthcare professionals who are ready to assist you.
Call us at (817) 616-0700 to schedule an appointment, or learn more about our practice here.